SCDC freeze allowances, breaking away from county council’s example

PUBLISHED: 11:04 25 November 2011

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ALLOWANCES for South Cambs councillors have been frozen for the fourth year in a row a move splitting the Conservative led district council from Tory controlled county hall.

The decision was made at a South Cambs District Council meeting yesterday (Thursday).

And is claimed to be a sympathetic gesture in understanding of the difficulties residents, as well as staff, face in the current economic climate.

Cllr Ted Ridgway Watt, Conservative member for Barrington and Orwell, said the authority wanted to “show some leadership” after Cambridgeshire County Council attempted - and failed- to raise members allowances by 25 per cent.

Which provoked a bitter backlash and was quashed after it became apparent the proper procedures had not been followed.

He said: “We we felt given the financial pressures, difficulties facing staff and going forward with the pressures of running a budget we couldn’t increase thew allowances.

“Budgets are squeezed and we now feel it would be inappropriate to allow the renumeration committee to raise any councillors salaries and compensation, and this decision has been put into the public eye.

“Taking into account the decision by the county council to award themselves a 25 per cent increases which was then redacted, we felt any sort of raise would send out the wrong message and we needed to show some leadership.”

However Cllr Deborah Roberts, who represents Fowlmere and Foxton, believes the motion was intended to portray the Conservative Party in the best light after the debacle at county hall - describing the move as “extremely cynical” and claiming the authority didn’t want to be “tarred with the same brush” as CCC.

“This was politics at its very worst, they wern’t worried in any way about the people they represent - they were concerend about the Conservative party and would could happen to their seats next May,” the independent councillor said.

Councillors Simon Edwards and Mervyn Loynes made the motion - which was agreed in a free vote - with 40 votes in favour and 4 against.

Cllr Simon Edwards, SCDC’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance and staffing, said: “During a time when residents are having to tighten their belts due to the economic downturn, and we are freezing staff pay for a second year running, it is only right for councillors to show strong leadership by not increasing our allowances either.

The basic allowance Members are paid stands at £4,627, which is slightly above North Herts District Council’s rate of £4,500.

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